76ers drop a rough game to the Milwaukee Bucks 118-116 in South Philly
Please, stop me if you have heard this one before. The Philadelphia 76ers built a double digit lead against a very good basketball team but couldn’t hold it, ultimately losing the game. It literally just happened against the Suns last game, and tonight against the the Milwaukee Bucks, the Sixers did it AGAIN, losing 118-116 in a devastating loss at the Wells Fargo Center.
Joel Embiid had 29 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists. Tobias Harris finished with a double-double, scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. James Harden scored 32 points and dished out nine assists.
Even with Embiid and Harden combining for 61 points, unfortunately it wasn’t enough against Giannis, who recorded 40 points on 16-for-24 shooting, adding 14 rebounds, six assists, and a few big blocks on the night.
Just like that, Milwaukee takes the season series against Philadelphia giving them a leg up in the Eastern Conference standings. The Bucks move into second place in the East, a half game behind the Miami Heat. The 76ers fall back down to the fourth seed, 1.5 games behind the Heat.
James Harden Finds His Rhythm
Harden came out of the gates attacking the basket and imposing himself as a scorer. He scored 12 points in the first quarter on 4-of-5 shooting in the first quarter and finished the night with 32 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the floor. Harden was 10-for-12 from the free throw line.
The two-man game between Harden and Embiid was essentially unstoppable in this game and where the Sixers did most of their damage. In return, Harden finished the night with nine assists. Outside of the pick and roll, Harden looked to create his own offense off of the dribble and looked like his old self with the isolation buckets and step back jumpers.
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Sure, with the loss Harden’s performance might get thrown to the side, but it was exactly what we have been looking for out of Harden, and honestly, it will ultimately make or break their finals run in the playoffs.
Joel Embiid Dominates
Embiid struggled to start the game, starting the game 1-for-5 from the floor. Of course, Embiid was able to snap out of it, making his next seven shots on his way to a 13-point second quarter. Embiid didn’t stop there, finishing the game with 29 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists.
Embiid moved effortlessly from the post, to attacking as a roller, to drilling 3-of-5 shots from three point range. The entire night was extremely efficient from Embiid, who finished 11-of-21 from the floor.
Do yourself a favor and just forget about the last possession.
With roughly 13 seconds left, James Harden had Brook Lopez on a switch and missed a step-back three pointer, with Embiid grabbing the rebound. There was basically 2.8 seconds left on the clock and Embiid tried to get up a quick layup under the basket and Giannis made an incredible block. Tough one for sure, but hardly on Embiid.
Harris, who struggled offensively following the addition of James Harden, continued to play well tonight and has been averaging 17 points over the last five games. Harris ended the game with 22 points, and was integral in keeping the Sixers in the game during the fourth quarter.
Joel Embiid was clearly frustrated with his supporting cast tonight during his post game press conference. What really stood out, is the way he criticized the rotations and who Doc Rivers had matched up on Giannis while he was on the bench. I couldn’t agree more.
Antetokounmpo was matched up with everyone throughout the night. Harris couldn’t stop him. Niang definitely couldn’t stop him and poor Paul Millsap stood no chance. If you stop and look at the start of the fourth quarter, both Embiid and Harden were on the bench. That can’t happen. Ever.
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The Sixers 10-point lead heading into the final frame was evaporated with Embiid and Harden on the bench. Giannis was a walking bucket in the fourth and then Doc had to burn a timeout early on to get Embiid back in the game.
The Sixers had a chance in this game, and really should have won. The timeouts and plays at the end of the game were messy and I don’t see anyone else to blame besides Doc Rivers. However, open shots need to fall. Period.
The 76ers schedule takes a turn in the right direction after tonight and they have a chance to take the majority of their seven remaining games. On Thursday, Philadelphia will travel to Detroit to take on the Pistons who currently hold a 20-56 record, good for 14th in the conference.
Mandatory Credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images